Thursday, September 8, 2011

100 Rejections

I've received a zillion rejections, but today I want to direct you to the Angry Grammarian and her 1 Year, 100 Rejections project, also recounted here in Specter Magazine. I love this project and have started keeping track, myself, as of September 1, 2011, in the spirit of Brett Elizabeth Jenkins, blogger/poet. You've got to love someone who calls herself the Angry Grammarian, right?!

Also, in honor of Brett, I am making it a Cranky Doodle Day on Thor's Day in the blog. Partly because I was so disappointed to start reading a literary journal received recently--looking forward to poems by poets I admire--and having to set it aside after finding three significant typos by page 18.  (And, you know, there's front matter, so the poems didn't even start till page 5.)

I'm OK with typos and even grammatical errors in blogs.  (Forgive me, Brett, if you ever come here, as you are likely to find some!) Blogs are quickly posted and often informal.

But a literary magazine has an editor!

One always hopes the poet has a chance to proofread her/his/hir poem, but that's not always the case. One hopes there's a chance to send the poem electronically, so there won't be errors introduced in re-typing or corrected from scanning. Again, not always the case.

It's true, I picked up the magazine later, to give it another chance, and this time just skipped around in it, seeking out poems by some whose names I recognized. Immediately, an error of "lie" and "lay" confusion, evidently the fault of the poet. Again, there's an editor! If the editor does not know the difference or make the change, then what?

I do sound cranky, don't I? I must hasten to confess that I have introduced errors into the editing or proofreading process of my own work, often stymied by technology or stupefied by lack of caffeine, sometimes just plain wrong. So I know it happens, and I accept and forgive all concerned.

Except...there's an editor! Isn't there? Sigh....

Anyhoo, I was tempted to cheat on the 1 Year, 100 Rejections project I started for myself on September 1. If only I had started on August 30! I would have an immediate acceptance, one of those rare, wonderful things, on August 31!

But, no, as of September 1, instead I have an immediate rejection of something I sent for a special project; true, two of those poems were already published, so does it even count? And does it count as one rejection, or three, since I sent 3 poems? I can tell that math challenge might get the better of me here.

As of September 1, I have sent out 5 separate packets, a total of 18 poems, and, have had one rejection. Mostly, I'm waiting 4-8 weeks or 3-6 months to hear on these, as on the many others still out there in the world.

Also since September 1, the summer Sow's Ear Poetry Review has arrived, with me in it, along with Traci Brimhall, Ellen Bass, and many other wonderful writers and artists, and I have proofread (I hope correctly) the electronic version of a poem for Confrontation. Where there are meticulous editors!

I am no longer even a weensy bit cranky, and I am just as grateful and enthusiastic as I was at the start about The Angry Grammarian!


Nancy Devine said...

this rejection thing....i kind of think i can do it. ;)

Kathleen said...

It kind of makes rejections fun, doesn't it?!

Brett Elizabeth Jenkins said...

I'm excited that you're starting 1 year 100 rejections with me. As a rule, I count a rejection from one magazine (even Missouri review, where they read 15 to 20 poems at a time) as one rejection. That makes things simple.

Kathleen said...

Hey, Brett! Thanks for stopping by and for clearing up my math challenge! That's what I was hoping: 1 packet = 1 rejection, if returned, or, preferably, an acceptance!

As you say in your article and blog post, being attentive to the whole submission process teaches you so much about the magazines, the poets in them, and your own poetry. Counting to 100 (or, as Bill Cosby does before a tonsillectomy, counting backwards from 100) makes it fun! So does ice cream. Eventually.

SarahJane said...

Regarding errors, here at the news agency where I work if there's a mistake in the story it's the journalist's fault and not the editor's, although of course the editor is hopefully weeding any errors out. I (and you) have had poems in a great online zine that I stopped submitting to because one issue was absolutely riddled with typos and grammar flubs. Sad! And I have to say the only journal I recall making a correction to my work was RHINO. Thank you, RHINO. (I'd spelled "judgment" wrong.)

I read about the 100 rejections project recently too and was really intrigued. In a way it is very constructive because you need to do a lot of submitting to get 100 rejections. I was tempted, too, but find submitting so time-consuming as it is...

Kathleen said...

Ah! And "judgment" can also be spelled "judgement" so that was probably a style choice.

I, too, have decided not to send to a few journals, for various reasons. Twice, I changed my mind and tried again a couple years later--two different journals--and then wrote and underlined notes to myself of slapping-myself-in-the-head sort.

In another case, since I loved the magazine's mission, I got over my reluctance, trusted that the staff had changed (it had, actual turnover), and it was a great experience!